Philippe Clement confesses Rangers challenge is BIGGER than he thought in brutally honest Ibrox assessment

Rangers manager Philippe Clement
Rangers manager Philippe Clement -Credit:SNS Group

Philippe Clement admitted he’s got a bigger job on his hands at Ibrox than he first thought.

The big Belgian is preparing for yet another Rangers rebuild after failing to stop Celtic landing a 12th title in the last 13 years. Clement always knew some significant refurbishment work was required this summer, with six players out of contract and several loan signings due to leave too. But he admits the scale of the injury crisis he’s encountered this season means he’s going to have to go even further with his plans to overhaul things at Ibrox on and off the park.

He said: “There are several things I want to change but we are in talks about that in the club. I think for the moment I am doing too much in different [areas] so it needs to be better delegated in the club.

“Is that a bigger overhaul than I expected when I first walked through the door? Yes. Some things have not surprised me because the club has been honest about a lot of things but the injury issue has been bigger than I expected.”

Asked if he felt he could get more out of the current list of absentees or if he felt new signings were the only way to solve the injury issue, the big Belgian said: "It will be a combination of the two I think.”

Clement has already started work on next season’s squad - and hopes to have his new signings in the door well before they kick-off their Champions League qualifying bid in August. He said: “Every manager wants everybody in tomorrow. Maybe not tomorrow, let’s say in four weeks for the first day of training. Yeah, we want that.

“I know our recruitment department are working towards that day and night but you can have ideas but it is never the reality because it is not only about you. It is about other clubs, making deals with them, making deals with other players.

“We need it also to be fast ready because you are going to go into a pre-season that needs to be hard because, like I said, the foundations of the house physically of the dressing room are not good enough to play high intensity at three games a week.

“That is one of the reasons for so many injuries, that is clear, that is an easy conclusion. These players and players coming in need a really good preparation and new players need to get automatised to the way of playing and learning the principles.

“In the month of August, there are nine games with two qualifying rounds for Champions League and five competition games. That is directly a really tough start. I did it before with Brugge. We had at that moment a core of the group and you could add, implement a few factors to make things better. I think here we need a bigger rebuild so that is even more challenging than it was before.”

Clement’s side bring the curtain down on the Premiership campaign on Saturday when they take on Hearts at Tynecastle. After that, it is onto Hampden for next weekend's Scottish Cup Final against Brendan Rodgers’ jubilant Hoops for a clash that could see the likes of John Lundstram, Borna Barisic, Ryan Jack, Kemar Roofe and others pull on a blue jersey for the final time.

Clement admits it's the end of an era but hopes there will be a happy ending. He said: “I think as a club, we're in some ways at the end of a cycle so we need to change some things. And I want to end this cycle with a really big moment next week to end the cycle in a good way.”

Rangers' Abdallah Sima looks dejected as he is forced off injured
Rangers' Abdallah Sima looks dejected as he is forced off injured -Credit:SNS Group

And he’s hoping for a rare fitness boost with Abdallah Sima fit again. But he’s warned there’s no guarantees the 16-goal winger will be back next season after his current loan from Brighton ends.

He said: “Sima will be back in the selection to play some minutes against Hearts but very little, it is his first step again. Ryan Jack is the same, he can also be selected for a few minutes. Leon Balogun is still a question mark. We will see how he is but he is close to coming back into the squad.

“As for Abdallah’s future, that is about us, him and Brighton. We were really happy with what he showed. We see him as somebody with potential to grow, he’s very happy in this building.

“There is a club that is his owner so you need to find an agreement so we will see what is going to happen there. You don’t know what way that will go. It depends what their demands are and what we can pay. It is always like that.”